JLF Research Archive
Showing items 426 to 450 of 536
More than a decade after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, disability policy in the United States remains fraught with uncertainty, dashed hopes, and contradictions. While most persons living with disabilities today have an unprecedented quality of life — largely the product of medical and technological advancements that would have seemed more the realm of science fiction than science fact a generation or two ago — they are also experiencing some surprisingly negative trends.
Some state politicians are touting the results of an Ernst & Young study that purports to rank North Carolina’s business taxes as among the lowest in the nation. But this flawed study ignores basic principles of public-finance economics and most of the taxes that influence business decisions. More accurate studies that examine all relevant taxes and all types of businesses suggest that North Carolina’s tax rates are high in regional rankings, thus discouraging economic growth.
US road conditions worsened from 2001 to 2002, for the first time since the mid 1990’s, even though the federal government and the states substantially increased their dollars, according to the latest annual review of state road performance prepared by Professor David T. Hartgen at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Counties and towns are a critical level of government in North Carolina, providing or administering many critical services while taking in billions of dollars of revenue. This is especially true as the state government has increasingly shifted more taxing authority to localities to make up for money kept by the state. While the importance of county and municipal government is great, obtaining comparative data is difficult. To help address this, By the Numbers 2004 provides information on how much local government costs in every city and county in North Carolina.
The North Carolina General Assembly is returning to Raleigh for a special session on economic development. Rather than rush to push targeted tax credits and incentives for a few, lawmakers should pursue a broader examination of the factors under their control that really influence state economic growth. The wrong direction is to enact any set of policies that increase the state bureaucracy or the ranks of lobbyists seeking to arrange special “deals” for their industrial clients.
This study carefully reviews the growth of North Carolina’s 1551 Census tracts during the 1990s compared with the locations of major road improvements. Tract data on changes in population, demographics, prior density, and location are merged with detailed data on 312 major road projects completed during the 1990s, and the relationships between road investments and growth are determined for each of the 12 commuting regions.
The North Carolina Senate held a special session in mid-September to pass a bill reforming the state’s treatment of medical-malpractice issues. A key element of the legislation — instigating expert review of malpractices claims before trial and imposing a related “loser pays” rule to discourage frivolous lawsuits — would be a welcome improvement. But some of the bill’s other provisions, including price controls and subsidized insurance, are much less attractive.
A 2003 report from JLF and the NC Education Alliance looked at the availability and use of parental choice in the state. In 69 of 117 districts, parents had no public-school choice options. Eighty-seven percent of students in grades 3 to 8 attended public schools, with about 15 percent of all 3-8 students were enrolled in a public school of choice (including charters). About 6 percent of 3rd to 8th grade students were home schooled, and another 7 percent attended a private school outside the home.
It‘s been a decade since a contentious merger of three Guilford school districts, and now merger disputes are underway in Orange and Cleveland counties. Unfortunately for merger advocates, the evidence is thin that creating larger school districts improves efficiency or learning. Indeed, some studies suggest that district mergers result in more non-instructional spending and actually hurt student achievement, particularly for those in lower-income communities.
Defining and protecting intellectual property, generally referred to as patents and copyrights, and trademarks have been legal and political endeavors for at least the last several hundred years. In the United States, protections of intellectual property are enshrined in the Constitution. This paper discusses the concept of intellectual property from an economic perspective.
A House-Senate compromise budget for the 2003-05 biennium will cost North Carolina taxpayers another half-billion dollars a year and do little to stem the government’s long-term growth. General Fund spending will actually rise 3 percent in FY 2003-04 and 5 percent in FY 2004-05, with most of the increase over the next two fiscal years concentrated in health and human services, debt service, the UNC system, and subsidies to nonprofits. North Carolina deserves better.
The North Carolina Justice and Community Development Center released a report in May that purported to demonstrate that 60 percent of North Carolina families with children were not receiving enough income to meet a “living-income” standard. This startling statistic was the result of gross exaggerations of cost and undercounts of income, including no accounting for child support payments. Moreover, the Center’s proposed solutions would increase poverty.
State lawmakers are considering a proposed constitutional amendment to allow local governments to issue bonds without a public vote to construct convention centers, sports arenas, and other “economic development” projects. Careful research of these programs in other states reveals that they do not enhance a community’s economic growth over time. Moreover, they weaken governmental accountability to a voting public that does not favor subsidizing private businesses.
Defenders of North Carolina’s fiscal policies over the past two years argue that the state’s massive increases in sales, income, business, and other taxes were just part of a national trend. But the available data put North Carolina near the top in tax increases over the past two years, with more than $1 billion in annual fiscal impact. The state’s quick recourse to higher taxes may be one reason why its economy has been trailing the rest of the region and nation since mid-2001.
The North Carolina Senate is considering a budget plan for the 2003-05 biennium that would compound the House’s error in raising taxes in the midst of a slack economic recovery. While proponents of the plan claim that it would help families with children, the reality is that it would impose higher taxes on family purchases of such items as clothes, furniture, candy, soft drinks, and health insurance — in order to fund a $726 million increase in state spending, or 5.1 percent.
Political observers may welcome the North Carolina House’s uncharacteristic speed in devising its 2003-05 budget plan by its previously announced deadline of Easter weekend, but state taxpayers are unlikely to view its nearly $860 million in extra taxes over the next two fiscal years as timely given the weakness of the state’s economic recovery. By working harder to identify budget savings, lawmakers could have avoided the tax increase without adversely affecting teachers, prisons, or other core services of state government.
The North Carolina General Assembly faces a critical choice about the state’s fiscal direction: whether to extend nearly $500 million in tax increases that politicians had previously promised were “temporary,” or to find additional savings to balance the FY 2003-04 budget. Since the taxes were originally imposed in 2001, North Carolina’s business growth has fallen short of the Southastern average and its tax rates remain among the highest in the region and the nation. And according to the Tax Foundation, North Carolina's state/local tax burden has risen to 25th in the nation in 2003, up from 36th in 1998.
North Carolina faces significant fiscal and economic challenges over the next two years. But it need not resort to higher taxes, a state-run lottery, higher debt, or gimmickry to balance its budget. Nor does North Carolina need to skimp on crucial needs such as education and highways. By setting firm priorities within state government, eliminating unnecessary or duplicative programs, and charging users of some services a reasonable price, state leaders can generate sufficient savings to invest in the future needs of the state.
North Carolina has now joined many other states and the federal government in debating solutions to the problem of rising costs in medical malpractice insurance. Evidence suggests that flaws in our tort laws and procedures are a major part of the problem. Proposed state legislation to cap “pain and suffering” awards and implement other reforms represents a good starting point, but state lawmakers should also look at a “loser pays” rule and judicial oversight of expert testimony to reduce the impact of junk science and quack medicine on jury deliberations.
Ground-level ozone, often referred to as smog, is front and center on the policy agenda of environmental groups and legislators at all levels of government. Over the past several years, high-profile studies published by the American Lung Association, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and the Clean Air Network (a consortium of environmental advocacy groups) have claimed that ozone is having a severe impact on public health, both nationwide and in North Carolina. These reports have gotten a great deal of media attention but very little media scrutiny.
Gov. Mike Easley has proposed an annual cap on the growth of state spending in North Carolina that would be tied to personal income growth. In considering the idea, lawmakers should examine recent data that show state spending caps to be effective particularly if they rebate excess revenues to taxpayers and enjoy constitutional, rather than just statutory, authority. Without a spending cap, it is likely that fiscal discipline will disappear as the state’s economy recovers.
This fifth annual report on schools from the North Carolina Education Alliance shows that many school districts in the state made progress in 2001-02. It also shows that many of the failing school systems from 2000-01 were still performing in the failing range again last year. Official results of statewide testing are reported annually in the Department of Public Instruction’s ABCs of Public Education. End-of-grade tests for elementary students and end-of-course tests for high school students are the only exams administered statewide each year. As such, information about public schools is focused on the results of these exams. Grading Our Schools offers a different lens for studying test results and other performance data. As an additional information tool, we hope it will allow parents and taxpayers to better evaluate student performance in North Carolina’s public schools.
All middle school teachers in North Carolina have to teach physical science, which is required for middle school students in NC public schools. Unfortunately, over 80% have never taken a physical science course and many of those who have, have taken a course that is of no help to their students. Naturally, with their limited backgrounds, they hare heavily dependent on the materials they are given to teach from. In addition, in many instances these materials form the teacher’s own introduction to the subjects. It is especially important, therefore, that the textbooks and other materials that teachers and students are forced to use get it right.
North Carolina lawmakers are once again coming to Raleigh to grapple with a projected deficit exceeding $1 billion. A close examination of fiscal trends demonstrates that excessive spending, not inadequate revenue, is the cause and that the state budget continues to be bloated with wasteful or low-priority expenditures. Policymakers must show courage, be willing to apply fundamental principles, and target major areas of state spending for savings and reform.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is a private organization formed in 1987 with the goal of establishing standards for teaching effectiveness and certifying those teachers it identified as especially capable. NBPTS has written standards that purport to show what accomplished teachers “should know and be able to do” and has established a certification procedure that relies on videotapes, portfolios and written essays. There are currently more than 16,000 National Board certified teachers in the United States, more than 20% of them in North Carolina.